A long time ago, before last night’s embarrassing loss to the Canadian Olympic Team and before last year’s crushing Game 7 loss to the Penguins, Alex Ovechkin was a happy, carefree individual who craved attention. He’d practically do any interview asked of him and was always happy to promote himself and the Capitals to no end. It’s safe to say that Ovechkin’s expressive play over the years has even captured the hearts of a once moribund sports town and turned Washington DC into a genuine Hockeytown.
But with peaks must come valleys. And the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was a deep chasm of awful for the Russian Machine – minus one legendary moment. What did Vancouver do though? It illustrated what can happen to a 24 year old when he carries a burden too heavy for even his broad shoulders to hold.
Russia defeated the Czech Republic 4-2 today and it was Alex Ovechkin’s “Hit Heard ‘Round Vancouver” that forced the key turnover from Jaromir Jagr. That hit in fact led to the Game Winning Goal by Evgeni Malkin and millions of mouths – across the world – left agape in wild disbelief. So obviously, after Ovechkin’s Herculean Feat, the media was quite excited to talk to the Russian Machine. They had many things to ask. Sadly, he was not as excited to speak to them, much like the rest of the Russian Team. Can you say “Is Party Now?”
Ovie takes about a minute of Russian questions, and blows off. Ditto Malkin. Ditto 99% of the roster.
Clearly, Alex Ovechkin hasn’t had enough Big Hits in the Olympics yet. In the third period of a game that would allow the Russians to win their division over the Czech Republic, Alex Ovechkin completely laid out Jaromir Jagr which you can view in this animated gif found by Japers’ Rink. Not only that, the hit led to a 2 on 1 with Alex Semin and Evgeni Malkin. Alex Ovechkin then hustled back into the play drawing a defender, which gave Alex Semin enough room to needle a pass to Evgeni Malkin – who then managed to roof a bad angled shot past Tomas Vokoun. It gave the Russians a 3-1 lead over the Czechs at the time, and ended up being the Game Winning Goal. Russia wins 4-2. Ro-ssi-ya! Ro-ssi-ya!
Anyways, here’s what Travis Hughes of SB Nation’s Winter Olympics Blog had to say on the big hit.
Maybe Jaromir Jagr hasn’t dealt with the physical aspect of hockey much in the last two years. At the very least, he certainly didn’t look like he was ready for a Russian freight train to come rolling through his station.
CHOO CHOO!! Anyways we must extend a special thanks to the Russian Machine for letting out about 10 years of Caps Angst with that one hit. What a legendary play from a historic player. And what an appetizer for Super Sunday. Up next USA vs. Canada.
This is totally a secret, so PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE keep this between you and me. Last Thursday night instead of staying up late to watch Team Russia lose to Team Slovakia in the Shootout (damn the bad ice thwarting Ovechkin’s last chance), I watched the movie “Whip It” with my SOULMATE Ashley on her 16 inch laptop. Sigh. So the next morning, not only did I spit out my coffee when I saw Russia lost, I started cursing when I saw our readers talking about some incredible, bone-crunching hits Alex Ovechkin laid out to Zdeno Chara, Lubos Bartecko and Pavol Demitra on Twitter. BAH totally missed it!
But because of youtube and the awesome internets, I found what I missed… And then some. So prepare yourself people. After seeing what I’m about to show you, I came to this conclusion: Alex Ovechkin is a more savage hitter in the Olympics than during the Regular Season (unless he’s angry at Evgeni Malkin). Check out a history of Ovechkin’s Olympic Sized Hits below the jump via Youtubes and Photos.
Earlier today, RussianHockeyFans.com broke the news that Team Russia’s First Line was getting an upgrade for tomorrow’s game against the Czech Republic. Alex Ovechkin & Alex Semin will now be centered by Evgeni Malkin. Talk about instant offense…
Yes that’s right, the Russians have now reunited the friends–turned enemies–turned friends again in Ovechkin and Malkin. Awesome. Also, RussianHockeyFans.com has the new Powerplay & Even-Strength Line Pairings for tomorrow as well:
New power play lines
According to Mikhail Zislis of Sport-Express, here are the new powerplay lines:
1. Alexander Ovechkin – Pavel Datsyuk – Evgeni Malkin, Kovalchuk – Gonchar
2. Alexander Semin – Viktor Kozlov – Alexander Radulov, Andrei Markov – Ilya Nikulin.
Ovechkin and Radulov were positioned in front of the goalie, screening him.
According to sports.ru, the new top two lines look like this:
1. Alexander Ovechkin – Evgeni Malkin – Alexander Semin, Sergei Gonchar – Fedor Tyutin.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk – Pavel Datsyuk – Maxim Afinogenov, Konstantin Korneev – Denis Grebeshkov.
The other two lines remain the same:
3. Alexei Morozov – Sergei Zinoviev – Danis Zaripov, Ilya Nikulin – Andrei Markov.
4. Viktor Kozlov – Sergei Fedorov – Alexander Radulov, Dmitriy Kalinin – Anton Volchenkov.
Evgeny Nabokov will start in Goal
And don’t worry, nothing’s changed on the PK. Viktor Kozlov is still one of the forwards. Man, if that’s not a chink in the armor, I don’t know what is.
Anyways, a few hours ago, Ovechkin discussed Evgeni Malkin moving to the first line with Soviet Sport’s V. Slavin. And RMNB has the translation first. Check it out:
We’ve decided there’s not enough saturation of opinion on the Internet. Nay– the tubes are too filled with cold, hard fact; intelligent analysis; and sober discussion. To fix this dire problem, the staff at Russian Machine Never Breaks gathered in its subterranean bunker (27 floors beneath The Greene Turtle in Frederick, Maryland) and put together their predictions for the 2010 Olympic Hockey tournament. And if you were expecting us to be in the tank for Mother Russia… well, take a look for yourself.
Fedor, our dear Russian who never sleeps, noticed this mammoth interview between Sport Express journalist Slava Malamud and Alex Ovechkin two nights ago, which was done right before the Washington/Montreal game. This is Part II of their interview translated. You can check out Part I that we published yesterday here.
Alex Ovechkin “Lundqvist is the coolest”
Slava Malamud– What about Canada?
Alex Ovechkin – Why do I have to think about Canada? Why not the Czech Republic?
SM – Russia – Canada is the trademark of hockey. Hockey as a sport would be absolutely different without that rivalry.
AO – I don’t disagree that everyone’s dreaming about these two teams in the final. But we have a situation where to dream is to damage. We can’t dream, we must play “at this moment”. Moment by moment.
SM – Pretty Canadian ideology. By the way, Don Cherry says again and again that you have a Canadian spirit and that all his countrymates should try to become like you.
AO – I’m Russian. I’m not a Canadian.
SM – You were told that you’re a “hit-n-run” player.
AO – It was just figuratively speaking, it was a joke. I’m “shoot-n-run”…? Seriously, I don’t like this perception. Was Wayne Gretzky “hit-n-run”. Or Mario Lemieux? Or Jarome Iginla? Or Crosby? Why are all Canadians called “hit-n-run”? Let’s not make this thing simpler than it is.
SM – By the way, about Crosby. You have much more assists than him even though he’s a centerman [Ed. Note – Really he’s centerBABY]. You’re one of the League Leaders in assists. But in Torino you didn’t have one. What happened?
AO – I just shoot and teammates score on the rebounds.
SM – Let’s continue about Crosby. Vancouver may be your last chance to prove that you’re better than him outright.
AO – I’ll try to do it, if God will allow us to play in the finals. But really, I want to win more than to prove something.
SM – Short tournaments often are won by the goalies. Whom are you afraid of?
AO – First of all – Brodeur. And the other Canadian – Luongo. When he played in the West i had problems with him.
SM – But others? If someone needs to depend on a goalie, they are not the favorites. Like Hasek and Czechs in 98.
AO – But why, for example, Swedes are not favorites? OK, I’ll name their goalie – Lundqvist. I know him better than others and i think he’s the coolest.
Keep reading: Ovechkin makes an Olympics Guarantee!
Fedor saw this mammoth interview between Sport Express journalist Slava Malamud and Alex Ovechkin, which was done right before the Canadiens game last night. This is Part I of their interview translated. Part II will come tomorrow!
“My best goal was against Brodeur”
Slava Malamud – You’re still playing games in the NHL but Olympics are getting closer and closer. And very soon your friends and teammates will become rivals, rivals will become friends…
Alex Ovechkin – Yeah, pretty funny feelings. I look at the guys in the locker room and unintentionally think that we’ll play against each other soon. And we’ll play hard. And we’ll struggle against each other. Pretty strange, yes.
SM– How do you get yourself focused before the important games or tournaments?
AO – Nothing special. I go there and play. Goalies have some weird traditions, but goalies are not like the other people. But I like to listen to good music before the game. I put some good hip-hop and think about the game. But usually if you like some music, it will tune you in right. For example, it’s more fun to warm up with music than without it. That’s all.
SM – Are your feelings getting worked up? Even now, a few days before the Olympics?
AO – Sure I’m feeling that I will come to Vancouver very soon. I’ll represent my country and, obviously, I’ve been thinking about it.
SM – But what’s your thoughts? You have something to remember – Torino, Quebec…
AO – No, the last Olympiad is over. I never think about it. And not only because we didn’t have success there. We had some good games there. But why do we have to remember the past?
SM – To learn from it. For example, Pavel Datsyuk said that team was going limp psychologically after the win over Canada.
AO – I have another point of view, but it’s ok. Everyone can to have his own. I don’t want to remember it.
SM – But there were not only bad things, for example, you scored against Brodeur…
AO – Yeah, it was the best goal in my career. Number one!
SM – You put it higher than unbelievable goal against the Coyotes? Higher than pirouette goal against the Canadiens? Higher than all your hat-tricks?
AO – Sure. That was very important and then I played for my country.
SM – But do you have an ideal goal? Goal of your dreams?
AO – I don’t want to dream about an ideal goal. I will remember it better once I have scored it. But an ideal goal… how about an empty netter at the last second. It’s the easiest, and the win is guaranteed.
Keep reading: Alexander talks smack about Canada after the jump!
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